||BIG LIFTING DEVICES (NORIAS)
Definition characters description and diffusion
The noria, or Persian wheel, is a device for lifting water used as a system of irrigation. It consists into a large water wheel built to raise water from the river and drop it into ducts and canals that lead to the fields waiting to be irrigated.
General characters description and diffusion
Norias originated in Syria. They were abundant on the Orontes, the Euphrates and the Tigris rivers and moved westward to al-Andalus where they became prominent. In North Africa the noria is found in the coastal zones of Morocco and, more sporadic, along the northern edge of the Sahara from the Tafilalet to Tripolitania. The distribution of the Norias in the Iberian peninsula coincides with the area of the Islamic settlements (below the line of the Duero and Ebro rivers), although in Portugal there is some diffusion north of the Duero. In Spain, they are particularly characteristic of Andalusia and Murcia; in Andalusia they were used to take water directly from large streams (the Guadalquivir and its tributaries, for example), whereas in Murcia they were generally located on large irrigation canals. The famous wheel at La Nora, driven by the current of the Aijufia Canal, is the prime example of the Murcian style. In Syria, the Norias of Hama, which are some of the oldest waterwheels in the world, were first built by the Byzantines, as a system of irrigation. Hama is a river town, built on the banks of the Orontes. The town is famous for the 17 huge wooden water wheels, which once scooped water from the river and despostied it into the aqueducts. Today, most of the norias are situated in the town centre, in a public park, where some gigantic wooden waterwheels turn here, scooping up water from the Orontes river and taking it up to the aqueduct running from it. Although the system is no longer used, it is still easy to see how simple and smart it is. The Four Norias of Bichriyat are situated on a weir about 1 km up-river from the town centre. The largest noria is known as Al-Mohammediyyah.
Advantages and sustainability
This simple machine was effective in providing water to cities for irrigation and to fill the acqueducts. Even though these norias are no longer used, they provided many benefits to the communities in which they were utilized.